Aloha Friday Message – February 28, 2014 – Facebook Finds

1409AFC022814 – Facebook Finds

Read it online here, please

Before we begin today, I want to make a prayer request for a family in a very difficult situation. A child – a teen – has succumb to the confusions of this world and left us through suicide. Any of you who have experienced a similar event among friends or family know how painful that is; the rest of us can only imagine. Together, all of us can share compassion for the teen and the family and friends who must cope with this loss. Take a moment now, please, and remember this family and all the families in general where suicide has occurred or is imminent. Ask God to send his Light to dispel the darkness surrounding these families, and – where you can – reach out with hand and heart to make way for the Light. Thank you, Beloved. Your prayers mean so much!!

Hebrews 12:14-15Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled.

Why is this one called “Facebook Finds?” The verses you see in the post today all came from Facebook posts. I get a lot of scripture-based posts on my wall, and since last Friday, some of them have really jumped out – enough that I copied down the location for use today. To some it could seem like a coincidence that four different verses would come up in four different posts at four different times, and then somehow end up tied together along with such an urgent prayer request. I have learned, however, that – when it comes to scriptural inspirations – there are no coincidences. These four verses are all part of the same message (the other three coming up later).

hebrews12-15Last week we considered Paul’s history of intense suffering because of the Gospel. He suffered in mind as he anguished for the Church, in Spirit as he was tortured by “a thorn in the flesh,” and in his body through repeated scourging and other life-threatening – and very painful and scar-producing – punishments for boldly proclaiming the Gospel. Paul’s sufferings led him to depths of faith most of us cannot comprehend as well as heights of rejoicing that many of us may never know. The maturity of his faith came from consistently and persistently “weeding the garden” of his life to keep out those things which destroyed the view of Paradise he had gained. I am reminded of a recent Gospel reading which ended, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Jesus was saying that the standard for loving one another is the same standard God uses for loving us. In this passage from Hebrews, Paul is pointing us in the same direction – holiness. Other translations for this word holiness ἁγιασμόν hagiasmos {hag-ee-as-mos’} in this verse are consecration, purification, or sanctification. This is seen in the manner and degree by which we serve God and others, by our setting aside out own willful desires for those of our neighbors because of our faithfulness in God. We are to life our lives so as to ensure that, “no one fails to obtain the grace of God” especially through our negligence or lack of effort.

We are to be on the lookout, then, for the things that wheedle the weeds into our lives, those choking vines and tares that threaten to damage the productivity of our Christian lives. Those roots of bitterness can take hold in our hearts, in our family, in our churches, even in our governments, and they can cause so much grief, sorrow, sin, pain, despair, and even death – the final stage of human captivity. It is the Truth of the Gospel that can set us free – not to avoid these things – but to prevail against them.

Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. This is because, as Paul says in Romans 8:28, “For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed you from the law of sin and death.” So, the freedom we know through the Spirit is the freedom from Eternal Death, because in Christ we have the liberty of Eternal Life. As we know, sin earns death, but salvation gifts Eternal Life. (See Romans 6:23) When we lay down our (day-to-day) lives and take up our cross (the hindrances to our faith) to follow Jesus, we are living in the Spirit for only the Spirit leads us to freedom, not bondage to all manner of sin. So often, Beloved, it is so very difficult to hear the words of Freedom being whispered to us by the Spirit! And yet we know that God does not always sound like a thunderous voice from the clouds; he often is just as quiet as the sweep of butterfly wings as they rest on the flower; but, quiet though the voice of God may be, it can still be heard!

Isaiah tells us in Isaiah 30:21 Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left. Think about that. Haven’t you experienced that? Isn’t it wonderful? It amazes me how so many times it comes when I stop listening to the noise and start listening to my heart. When that happens, it is then and only then that I hear him with my ears. But, I also know that there are plenty of times when I hear this incessant whispering and (like an idiot) I yell, “Cut that out! I’m trying to listen for God here!!” Sometimes we are distracted by things we don’t understand, and we put so much energy into sorting them out that we can’t hear anything but our own silent screams of frustration and hurt. That whisper is still there, but it is overpowered by the noises of the World. In times like these, it often seems God as abandoned us – “if he was ever with us” we mutter in anger – and if God is gone what use it is to be close to anyone else? This is the converse or contrary lie to Satan’s original lie, “You can be like God;” it is “You cannot be like God because there is no God. (Not one you can know anyway!)” Still, the Whisper is always there, and whenever we can help someone hear it, we are taking up the challenge to “pursue peace with everyone.” The first time I read that I thought of it as a face-to-face encounter as in turning the other cheek (see Nonviolent resistance interpretation) and yielding to the requirements or demands of others. But on reflection, I also see it as a cooperative process in which a community works together to be at peace as in Romans 14:19 and Romans 15:2.

We all know it is easy, nonetheless, to sometimes feel lost, or discouraged, or confused. We look for someone to lead us, someone we can depend on to know the way, to lift up our spirit, or to help us muddle through. Often that someone is a parent, or a friend, a spouse or a relative, sometimes it is someone n the clergy and others someone in medicine. Even through love, knowledge, wisdom, or experience, these resources are insufficient. As the saying goes, “When all you have left is God, that is when you find God is all you need.” He is ours and we are his. We should not succumb to distress, for as God said to Moses and Israel in Deuteronomy 31:8 – “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.He leadeth me (You’re going to want to listen to that one!) When I yank my hand away, when to shout over the whisper, when I stopper my ears to hear the voice behind me, I am lost, I am weak, I am worn. (This one is so cool!) It is then that the love of a friend, the advice of a counselor, the support of a spouse, or the power of the Word digs out the root of bitterness and saves me from the harm to which my lack of faith compels me. Earthlings are constructed with two hands – one to reach up to God and another to reach out to others like us. It is uncomely for us to sit with our hands in our lap or stand with our hands in our pockets when there is Good to be done for God and for one another.

Here is the group of four verses for your review:

Hebrews 12:14-15Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled.

2 Corinthians 3:17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Isaiah 30:21 Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left. And finally we have …

Deuteronomy 31:8It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

Pray for the lost and lonely that they might hear the sweet whispers of God as an antidote to the bitterness which pursues them.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved

chick

Your life AND theirs!

Your life AND theirs!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

chick

2-heart-medThis just in: Please include in your prayers 21 y.o. Emily. She was hospitalized recently for diagnosis and treatment of a large abdominal mass. The pathology report returned with a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Pray for Emi, for her family and friends, and for a cure for cancer, please.

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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